Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Associations between symptoms of irritable colon and psychological and social conditions and lifestyle.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 21 June 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:1633
  1. R Johnsen,
  2. B K Jacobsen,
  3. O H Førde


    In a survey of risk factors for coronary heart disease 14 102 middle aged men and women answered a questionnaire on lifestyle, diet, and health, including symptoms of functional abdominal disorders. The overall prevalence of reports of one or both of the abdominal symptoms of "bloating and rumbling" or "cramping abdominal pain" was 28% in men and 35% in women. Only a weak negative association between age and prevalence of reported pain was found in both sexes. Women reported abdominal symptoms, especially cramping abdominal pain, significantly more commonly than men. In a multiple regression analysis abdominal symptoms were much more strongly associated with symptoms of mental stress such as depression, sleeping difficulties, problems of coping, and the use of analgesics than with lifestyle, dietary, and social variables together. The association was stronger in subjects reporting both symptoms. This strong and consistent association between functional abdominal disorders and psychological and social problems suggests that action other than prescribing drugs, diets, or radiography is required.